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Armor in World War II Discuss all aspects & disciplines of World War II Armor here.

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  #61  
Old 06 Jul 17, 10:30
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I've posted this a few times before, but there's a post-war British trial of five Panthers here. These were all built in mid-1945, and their reliability was atrocious.
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  #62  
Old 07 Jul 17, 12:43
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Quote:
Inadequate design
I believe that around 10 tonnes of weight was added after the drive-train aspect was frozen and so the power-to-weight ratio never recovered, putting a lot of strain on the various parts.


Quote:
Driver inexperience/inadequate training
Certainty prior to Kursk the battalions had limited hands-on and almost no unit training. Not sure how that evolved over time, but presume by Normandy they were somewhat more familiar (set against continued loss of experienced crews)


Quote:
Inferior materials
From late '43 they lost the Nickel mines, I think, in the Donets, which is used in hardening steel. Not sure if that was a contributory factor?
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  #63  
Old 07 Jul 17, 13:29
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Originally Posted by Bluenose View Post
I believe that around 10 tonnes of weight was added after the drive-train aspect was frozen and so the power-to-weight ratio never recovered, putting a lot of strain on the various parts.

From late '43 they lost the Nickel mines, I think, in the Donets, which is used in hardening steel. Not sure if that was a contributory factor?
It would appear that,just as happened with the Luftwaffe driver training became increasingly restricted for all German tanks as fuel shortages hit. If they had adopted diesel in the first place this might not have been such a problem.

As I pointed out the roller and ball bearings were using chrome steel which actually uses chrome and nickel as part of the steel alloy both of which Germany was cut off from mid 1941 apart from what blockade runners and subs could bring in. Whilst the quantities needed are only a small percentage of the steel in total Germany needed a lot. What was run was not as some posts in other threads suggest ore (that would be grossly inefficient) but refined ingots but even so it was not enough. It is possible to use less but the steel is not as hard (use too little the steel is not had enough use too much and it is too brittle.
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  #64  
Old 07 Jul 17, 16:07
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The Germans also had access to the nickle mines in Petsamo, Finland.

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  #65  
Old 07 Jul 17, 16:24
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Edited post.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluenose View Post
I believe that around 10 tonnes of weight was added after the drive-train aspect was frozen and so the power-to-weight ratio never recovered, putting a lot of strain on the various parts.?
The Panther always had a decent power to weight ratio. Compare this with a mere 8.45 BHP/ton of a Churchill III, the most unreliable type. Both were fairly rubbish tanks concerning mechanicals, which were both better than Shermans with most attributes concerning tactical mobility. However, neither any Panther, nor the Churchill III (or even the IV/V) were as good as the US tank in this respect. BHP/ton was not the issue concerning reliability.
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Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
I've posted this a few times before, but there's a post-war British trial of five Panthers here. These were all built in mid-1945, and their reliability was atrocious.
Always worth posting .

It could be that the ones they acquired were ones not used simply because they were so bad?

However, a late WW2 Panther is unlikely to be a decent mechanical afv given the people building it, regardless of how good a design is, plus you have substandard materials being used. Its glacis proves that.

Another real issue is the nature of statistical analysis. You need in excess of 1000 examples to analyse to have a chance at a reasonable confidence in any results, and political surveys have proved, that even then, anomalies occur. Not one of any WW2 report really concerning tanks has 1000 items analyzed.

What this means is that all my opinions on WW2 afv's could be totally wrong .
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  #66  
Old 07 Jul 17, 16:40
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

Another real issue is the nature of statistical analysis. You need in excess of 1000 examples to analyse to have a chance at a reasonable confidence in any results, and political surveys have proved, that even then, anomalies occur. Not one of any WW2 report really concerning tanks has 1000 items analyzed.

What this means is that all my opinions on WW2 afv's could be totally wrong .
I don't think you're correct on this - you can get reasonably sound statistical analysis with samples sizes of 30 or so; obviously it's better with more samples, and it also depends on what you're looking at, or trying to prove, and assumptions about the underlying distribution.
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  #67  
Old 07 Jul 17, 16:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
It could be that the ones they acquired were ones not used simply because they were so bad?

However, a late WW2 Panther is unlikely to be a decent mechanical afv given the people building it, regardless of how good a design is, plus you have substandard materials being used. Its glacis proves that.
These tanks were put together from available parts by German fitters under the supervision of the REME circa July 1945. I think they would have had pretty much zero mileage before the FVPE trials.

You could argue that they were deliberately built badly to spite the British, but on the other hand they might have been built to a higher standard than those manufactured by impressed or slave labour. It's impossible to say, and, anyway, the British, like everyone else at that time, just weren't that interested in, or impressed by, the Panther.

Its reputation only truly emerged 40 years later.
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  #68  
Old 08 Jul 17, 05:59
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Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
These tanks were put together from available parts by German fitters under the supervision of the REME circa July 1945. I think they would have had pretty much zero mileage before the FVPE trials.

You could argue that they were deliberately built badly to spite the British, but on the other hand they might have been built to a higher standard than those manufactured by impressed or slave labour. It's impossible to say, and, anyway, the British, like everyone else at that time, just weren't that interested in, or impressed by, the Panther.

Its reputation only truly emerged 40 years later.
Teach me not to read the link fully.

Concerning Cuckoo, the Panther with the Guards 6th Tank Brigade, the only element of that reported as being superior to the Churchill was its gunsight, which was considered very effective indeed. I would go as far to state that this was the single best element of the V.
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Originally Posted by Aber View Post
I don't think you're correct on this - you can get reasonably sound statistical analysis with samples sizes of 30 or so; obviously it's better with more samples, and it also depends on what you're looking at, or trying to prove, and assumptions about the underlying distribution.
30 will certainly give an indication, but this sample size is certainly too small for a decent level of confidence.

However, what we do know is that the panther was almost certainly a mechanical failure, and that levels of acceptable reliability in Soviet and Nazi armies appear far lowers than that sufficient for Western forces.
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  #69  
Old 08 Jul 17, 06:32
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The Germans also had access to the nickle mines in Petsamo, Finland.

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The estimated total need for refined Nickel by Germany in WW2 was 50,000 tons. Petsamo supplied 13,000 tons France's nickel reserves were seized and exhausted by 1941
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Old 08 Jul 17, 09:33
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One of the amusing lines that advocates of the Panther like to trot out is that it was "reliable in the hands of an experienced driver." Which is obviously piffle, because requiring an experienced driver is itself the very definition of unreliability.

If I couldn't allow anyone to borrow my car, because only I knew how to prevent it breaking down, would that mean it was a reliable car?
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Old 08 Jul 17, 12:14
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A Pz IV costed around 46 000 $ while a Panther costed around 60 000 $.
Not sure what these prices are supposed to represent, but the German Army paid the manufacturers 103.462 RM for a Panzer IV Ausf. G and 117.100 RM for a Panther. That is without armament, optics and radio equipment. The 7,5cm L/43 in the Panzer IV cost 12.500 RM (the L/48 was simplified and may have been slightly chaper) and the 7,5cm L/70 in the Panther cost 12.000 RM. The two guns took roughly the same manhours and time to make, so the difference seems to have been in the use of materials.

In any case, the German Army got a lot more tank when buying a Panther.

With regards to the final drive, Spielbergers explanation is:
  • Engineers underestimated the forces generated in the final drive when the very effective discbrake was applied for narrow turns
  • The choice of straight gears rather than planetary gears was made to reduce the strain on certain machinery for making the annulus gears. This was part of the general plan to make the Panther simpler to produce.
  • The design of the final drive was based on the assumption that high-quality steel would be available. When the Panther reached production, it was not available due to the lack of rawmaterials.

You do get the impression, that the Panther was made in a tug-of-war between production planners, who demanded the vehicle to be as simple to make as possible with no undue draw on ressources, and engineers at WaPrüf that wanted the best tank possible from an engineering standpoint.

You can say that both parties won - the production people got a lot of tank for their money and the engineers got a tank with some impressive specifications.

As no one really cared about what the users wanted, they were stuck with a tank that was overengineered and underreliable and in the real world not sufficiently superior to what the enemy had.
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Old 08 Jul 17, 12:52
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I had wondered if there might have been a problem with poor quality lubricants, however on checking I found that a 1942 US report on German lubricants reported them superior to those used by the Allies. However a British report analysing lubricants recovered from a Panther whist merely identifying the composition and not commenting on their effectiveness does show that there were five different lubes used and one couldn't get away with using the wrong one in the wrong place. In the confusion of the front line I imagine that it might be all to easy for a young, inexperienced member of a repair section to do just that. Another area where the Panther was just too complicated? When I did a study at REME eons ago the Brigadier I reported to had a stock saying "things have to be made soldier proof - they don't always have time to take care" admittedly he was referring to IT matters but I suspect the same applies to tank maintenance.
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Old 09 Jul 17, 00:44
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Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
One of the amusing lines that advocates of the Panther like to trot out is that it was "reliable in the hands of an experienced driver." Which is obviously piffle, because requiring an experienced driver is itself the very definition of unreliability.

If I couldn't allow anyone to borrow my car, because only I knew how to prevent it breaking down, would that mean it was a reliable car?

When I've owned cars with manual transmissions I would never let an "inexperienced" friend borrow one of them. The cars were perfectly reliable, but I did not want a novice putting a lot of wear and tear on the clutch and transmission.

The M-113 family of APCs were quite reliable, but an inexperienced driver could break a quill shaft if they gunned the engine before it had warmed up sufficiently. Experienced drivers knew better.
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Old 09 Jul 17, 04:32
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When I've owned cars with manual transmissions I would never let an "inexperienced" friend borrow one of them. The cars were perfectly reliable, but I did not want a novice putting a lot of wear and tear on the clutch and transmission.

The M-113 family of APCs were quite reliable, but an inexperienced driver could break a quill shaft if they gunned the engine before it had warmed up sufficiently. Experienced drivers knew better.
Yes but you live in the USA where manual shifts are relatively uncommon. Here in the UK the vast majority of cars have a manual shift and most drivers learned on one. Indeed a driver that passed the test on an automatic is not allowed to rive a manual shift unless supervised as a learner.

As I pointed out a reliable weapon of war needs as far as possible to be soldier proof. When they need too much TLC they cease to be reliable. On the small arms side a lesson shown by the Ross Rifle, the Chauchat and the Madsen. It was claimed that the disastrous Rolls Royce Vulture fitted to the ill fated Manchester bomber was really a good engine "if treated properly" but a combat engine that needs too much expertise is by definition unreliable. The same stricture applies to tanks.
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Old 09 Jul 17, 04:59
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One irony is that in the post-war period, the British faced the same dilemma as the Germans had during WW2 - how to deal with overwhelming numbers of Soviet tanks. In consequence, the British did what the Germans had done - concentrate on armour and firepower at the expense of reliability and durability.

The result was the Chieftain, which was at least as unreliable as the Panther, and possibly even more so.
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